On account of traveling to and from India this past week, my comics reading took a back-seat, as did my novel reading incidentally. Very few comics read, but most of them were good at least, a saving grace.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the first of the Mission Impossible movies that I’ve seen in full. I’ve seen the others since then, but that was definitely the first. Tom Cruise has always been quite a decent actor, although with the added perspective of years, I’ll say that he tends to play one particular character, in terms of his performance, across most of his films. Still, these movies are quite good, and definitely rewatchable. Plus, if a movie is set in Dubai, I’ll definitely watch it, for sure.
So, here’s a review of the movie.
Its been almost two months since I last did a review for this show. Some of you might have wondered why. I mean, I was covering the show on a weekly basis with every new episode for nine weeks straight and then I didn’t cover the mid-season finale, which was a rather explosive moment for the series, on several different levels. Those of you who follow me on social media knew well how I felt about that episode though. Sadly, my feelings have hardly changed with the show’s return and the recent two episodes. Thing is, for me the mid-season finale was very boring, with the follow-up episode being extremely disappointing and this week’s episode being barely decent.
The mid-season finale brought back Mike Peterson, who we last saw in the series premiere. It was an episode with a personal twist for him and the ending made me really frustrated. The mid-season premiere made me cringe all throughout. And this week’s episode, while it had some good moments and was overall better than the previous two episodes, still did not make a dent in my growing dislike of the show. At this point, I’m just about going through the motions. I went from tuning in for the show weekly to catching up on the two recent episodes this weekend late at night the day before and yesterday. I just can’t get all that excited any more.
Note: This review contains spoilers about the resurrection of Phil Coulson and other important moments, particularly Skye’s mysterious parents.
A few days ago I did my best of 2013 list for the books I had read in the second half of the year. In a departure from previous such lists I divided the books and the comics into separate posts so that I didn’t have one massive post up. Massive posts are a bit tough to handle, especially when you are promoting them on social media. And with the split posts, the directions are different and there’s no unnecessary crossover.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite graphic novels of the year. A post with the best single issues will follow on later.
You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
If Marvel’s Painkiller Jane, Image’s Velvet and IDW’s Illegitimates are any indication, then spy/detective stories are on the rise in the comics scene, and I think that its all the better for it. Helps break the monotony of superheroes everywhere, and it helps Image and IDW particularly in continuing to offer a diverse portfolio to readers, to draw them in and do some really fun stuff. Of course, Velvet and Illegitimates are twists on the classic James Bond-style setting.
The former is based on the premise that the secretary is a former agent, quite lethal in fact, whereas the latter is based on the premise that the super secret agent left a string of babies during his escapades all over the world. And the latter is what we are concerned with here. Illegitimates basically runs off with that premise and it sets up a situation where the so-called illegitimates come to the notice of the organisation and are brought in (or will be brought in, I should say). The writing is decent, if a bit bland, and the art is similar.
Last week I talked about how uneven Agents of SHIELD was in terms of story quality, and I mentioned that the show flip-flopped with good and bad storylines every other week with almost a regularity to it. Still, it is very early days yet for the show, we are barely two months into it in fact, and so I can sort of accept such unevenness since a lot of shows struggle at this point in their development. The creators have to work from scratch, have to spread themselves around and hit on the magical story that will truly resonate with viewers and keep bringing them back in droves every week.
I’ve said again and again that this show is a very promising one and that it needs to take chances and be truly bold. It has a solid premise, it just needs to work on its execution, which is where it is most lacking for now. This week’s episode does some really interesting things and best of all it finally gives a reason for why Agent Melinda May gave up field-work and took a desk-job. At the same time, we also get an indirect Thor: The Dark World tie-in, which is just in keeping with last week’s episode which was much more of a tie-in than this one. However, the show still continued its “villain of the week” pattern and that was most disappointing, more so since there was a distinct lack of any story elements related to the previous episodes.
Agents of SHIELD is a show that often tests my patience. One episode will be good, another not so much. And this flip flop continues in a loop every two weeks. There’s almost a regularity to it. It is one of the most uneven shows that I’ve watched, which is saying something since I’m quite a fan of Joss Whedon’s other shows and the ones I’ve seen have all been excellent, losing steam only about the time that they hit their final seasons. The show is extremely promising, but it just doesn’t capture the imagination as well as it should be.
Last week’s episode was kind of a bore. It lacked all the excitement and character drama of the episode the week before. But this week’s episode somehow turns it around. It is better than last week’s episode, primarily because it makes a strong effort to tie-in to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. And there is some interesting character development as well, with regards to Agent Ward, one character on the show who desperately needs that kind of development.
Given the news that Marvel released last week (read here), it seems that Agents of SHIELD isn’t the only show that the comics powerhouse and its owner Disney are developing on the road to creating a live-action connected universe that can rival their cinematic universe and even work alongside it. In light of that, I suppose it makes sense that one or two characters in the show that I thought would turn into regulars and become characters I recognise didn’t turn out that way. So that takes some of the sting out of my disappointment with the show. But that disappointment remains nonetheless.
This week’s episode did some interesting things, changing the status quo on a micro level for the team and giving us some interesting new pairings between the various characters, but as it turns out, they made quite a few questionable missteps and where I’d thought that last week’s FitzSimmons centric episode marked a new phase for the show, this week’s outing pretty much disabuses me of the notion, and I’m starting to think that the show is going to be stuck where it is right now in terms of the narrative and its approach to its characters.
This week was a bit heavy on DC reading, mostly because a lot of top titles were released, titles I’d been looking forward to all month and so I went all-out for the most part. Some bit of Marvel and Image mixed in as well, which is always great to break up the monotony of reading just the DC-stuff. Read a bit more this week than I usually do, which was a surprise since this week was also marred by reading a really huge science fiction novel, which proved to be a long, long slog, so that’s something I guess.
Also, I finally managed to read a graphic novel, which was great. It wasn’t one that I was really planning to read, but it was on the list for a long time, so it all balances out in the end, which is what matters most. And now I’m pumped on to read more, and this week should be good on that front. Fingers crossed!